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Mentor Mothers on the Frontlines: A Spotlight on m2m’s COVID19 Pivot

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Greetings to you wherever you find yourself on the pandemic curve! Some places are beginning to open up, others are still in full or modified lock down. Wherever you find yourself, we are all still very much in a time of great uncertainty requiring us all individually and collectively as organizations to adapt and pivot to best respond to the needs around us. Everywhere around the world, women are disproportionatly leading on the frontlines of the COVID19 response. As this global pandemic continues its advance around the world, we are honored to share this update from Frank Beadle de Palomo, President & CEO of mothers2mothers about how they as an organization have adapted their regular programming to respond to this still unfolding global pandemic. Like all organizations doing this COVID19 pivot, m2m is centering it’s response around maximizing and preserving what is at the core of their work which, in this case, is a powerful community network centered around “Mentor Mothers” who are finding themselves well positioned for this frontline work.

“What gives me hope during this time is the fact that we did not go into hiding and wait for the pandemic to be over and then come back. No, we stood with our clients, we ensured that they received health services, we ensured that they stayed safe during this pandemic. As a result, we are going to come out stronger, better, and more knowledgeable.” – Wilbroda Akuro, mothers2mothers (m2m) Mentor Mother in Kenya.

Five. That is the number of ICU beds per million people across Africa, compared to an average of 3,400 in the United States. In many countries that we serve, the shortage of medical professionals defies belief. Mozambique, where m2m has been working since 2017, has only 3 doctors for every 100,000 people and more than half of Mozambicans must walk an hour or more to reach the nearest health facilities. It’s hard for those who have grown up in the U.S. or Europe to conceive of such shortages, especially in the face of pandemic. But that is why m2m’s Mentor Mothers have such a critical role to play as they fill in the gaps of healthcare systems further weakened by COVID-19.

m2m Mentor Mother with a client at the Namulenga Health Center in the Mulanje District of Malawi before COVID-19

Differentiating sub-Saharan Africa from the western world is a population of more than 20.6 million immunocompromised individuals living with HIV, according to UNAIDS. COVID-19 poses greater risks to populations living with HIV that are not on effective treatment. There are over nine million people throughout the continent who are not accessing effective treatment. COVID-19 not only infects individuals, it has been shutting down economies and services across the world. For individuals living with HIV who are on treatment, accessing their lifesaving prescription refills and viral load testing at this time is getting more and more difficult. Meanwhile, UNAIDS has recently estimated that – if HIV treatment is interrupted for six months – an additional 500,000 people could die.

Faced with these daunting realities, it is no wonder that COVID-19 has been described as a ticking timebomb for the African continent.

m2m is determined to play our part as COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the African continent. The nearly 1,800 women living with HIV who are employed by m2m as frontline health workers called Mentor Mothers – like Wilbroda Akuro in Kenya – are standing by the more than one million individuals they serve each year across nine African nations. These brave women have been designated “essential workers” in countries under full, or partial, COVID-19 lockdowns. This designation means they are able to continue to deliver health services and education to women and families – not only about HIV/AIDS – but also other serious health issues including COVID-19. At this time, their support is more important than ever to make sure that families access vital health services, stay in care, and adhere to treatment regimens. Mentor Mothers also ease the load on doctors and nurses, so they can focus on urgent and acute medical needs.

m2m’s approach to the emerging health crisis has been two-fold: ADAPT and PROTECT.

We have rapidly adapted our services to address the new reality of COVID-19. This has meant dramatically altering or reducing face-to-face services, and a pivot to eServices. We are reimagining how we reach and serve clients using tools such as WhatsApp and phone calls to engage clients where possible, and developing new, interactive platforms which will be rolled out soon.

In addition to providing core health services around HIV/AIDS; Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (RMNCH); pediatric case finding; and adolescent health needs; Mentor Mothers have adapted their expertise to deliver a new curriculum around COVID-19. Fearlessly, they help ensure those with symptoms access testing and health services.

Given the additional risks posed by HIV, we are also focused on ensuring everyone knows their HIV status and is adhering to treatment, if needed. HIV viral suppression is key to ensuring that those living with HIV are on equal footing to fight COVID-19. m2m already reports exceptional numbers on adherence (in 2018, 94% of our HIV-positive clients were adherent to their treatment more than 95% of the time). We need to keep that bar high and ensure that COVID-19 does not wreak devastation through this extremely at-risk population.

Concomitantly, and a major priority for us, m2m is also taking steps to protect Mentor Mothers and their clients to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. We have implemented measures to promote social distancing and are equipping our frontline staff with personal protective equipment—no small feat across nine diverse countries.

Fear and stigma can fuel the potential devastation of COVID-19. However, m2m’s Mentor Mothers are Read More

Job Postings: IDF and Our Partner Organizations are Hiring

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The Imago Dei Fund is looking to add to our team! Some of our partner organizations are also hiring.  Please pass along these opportunities to anyone you think may be a good fit.

COVID-19 Resources

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World Vision Resources for Addressing Gender Equality During COVID-19

World Vision GESI and COVID-19

World Vision Gender and Social Inclusion Lens COVID-19 Response: Guidance Note

Global Funding for COVID-19

Open Road Alliance Respond to COVID-19
Charitable Grants will only be offered to organizations responding directly to COVID-19. Open Road will be offering four loan products to organizations affected by COVID-19.

COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Solidarity Response Fund will raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund, the first-of-its-kind, enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to come together to directly contribute to global response efforts, and has been created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, together with WHO.

Massachusetts Resources

COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for Businesses

Rapid Response: Racism is a Virus Too
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation created this rapid response fund to respond to the hate crimes and bias against Asian American communities resulting from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Family Support Fund
Our COVID-19 Family Support Fund will help hourly, low-wage workers weather the losses from this epidemic.

MetroWest Emergency Relief Fund
The MetroWest Emergency Relief Fund will support non-profits addressing the most immediate needs or experiencing significant financial challenges due to closures during broad-based community emergencies, such as natural disasters, financial crises, and public health emergencies.

The Lenny Zakim Fund COVID-19 Emergency Grants
The Lenny Zakim Fund (LZF) announced $186,225 in grants from its COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Fund to help grassroots nonprofits across Eastern Massachusetts address the needs of communities struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boston Resources

COVID-19 Response Fund
The COVID-19 Response Fund has been established by a coalition of business, government and philanthropic partners to rapidly deploy flexible resources to organizations in Greater Boston that are working with communities that are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Supporting Bostonians in Need during COVID-19
Union Capital Boston established a one-time direct gift campaign to send Visa gift cards to those who need it urgently in the Greater Boston area. 100% of donations will go to families in need.

Cambridge Resources

Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund
In response, the Cambridge Community Foundation has launched the Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund as a source of immediate relief for those who need it most.

Resources for Organizations

The Complete List of Free Tools for Remote Work During Coronavirus
Are you working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak? In response to COVID-19, plenty of software companies have begun offering free tools and resources for those of us working remotely. We’ve rounded up those offers and will update this article as information becomes available.

An overview of the CARES Act and Nonprofits

Resources for Funders/Philanthropy

COVID-19⁠—Seven Things Philanthropy Can Do

6 Steps for Grant Makers to Take Now to Ensure Nonprofits Recover From Coronavirus Spread

Establishing an Emergency COVID-19 Relief Fund

Philanthropy Needs To Trust Nonprofits Now More Than Ever

Resources for Responding to COVID-19
This page is divided between internal and external resources. Internal resources are related to business conitinuity or sample communications with staff. External resources are related to how your foundation might shift grantmaking, create response funds, and includes resources from the government, peer networks, and other experts.

Where to Give

King Boudain Foundation Italy Fund
KBFUS launches COVID-19 response fund for Italy, in an effort to gather support for and assist local organizations with their response.

Give2Asia China and Asia Funds
Give2Asia created funds to support trusted NGOs helping frontline health workers and communities respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gates Philanthropy Partners
Gates Philanthropy Partners’ Combating COVID-19 Fund is focused on developing the most promising vaccines and diagnostics and protecting the most vulnerable in Africa and South Asia.

HIP COVID-19 Rapid Response Migration Fund- Funder Note
Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) invites our members to contribute to our COVID-19 Rapid Response Migration Fund, which will provide emergency mini-grants to frontline organizations responding to the immediate needs of migrants and refugees to respond to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CJP Coronavirus Emergency Fund
In response, we have launched the CJP Coronavirus Emergency Fund. 100% of the money raised will support community members facing hardship as a result of this pandemic.


This Age of COVID-19 Demands new Emergency Ethics

COVID-19 is only slowly reaching Africa. That’s no surprise.

South Africa is taking drastic steps to save its high-risk population from coronavirus

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Girl Rising Releases a New Family Guide

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At Girl Rising, stories inspire us. They encourage us to see the world differently. They show us what is possible. We have put together the Girl Rising Family Guide to help bring these stories and conversations into your homes. It includes links to the film chapters, additional supporting short videos, discussion guides, and more. Read More

Tostan releases two COVID19 Booklets In Ten Languages including a Faith-based Contextualization

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Coronavirus Booklets are now available to all! Tostan has created two informational booklets on COVID-19 in ten languages for public use. The first is a 24-page illustrated booklet on COVID-19, and the second brochure offers an Islamic perspective on contagious diseases, providing specific Qu’ranic verses and contextualization related to COVID-19. Read More

Nomi Network Offers Free COVID-19 Community Outreach Training Resources

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A foundational aspect of our Workforce Development Program is our hygiene module, which integrates USAID’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) curriculum in the cultural context of rural India. This curriculum has been tested AND proven to cultivate hygiene behaviors like hand-washing, in rural villages where hygiene is poor, and hand-washing is not common practice. After the COVID-19 outbreak, we translated vital learnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) to combine COVID-19 awareness, prevention, and monitoring with our existing hygiene curriculum. These hygiene modules are currently available in Hindi and Odia. With the help of Vodafone and UBS, we have digitized these modules, and we are now making them available to NGOs and nonprofits working in vulnerable, developing communities. Read More

“The ability to read, write, and analyze; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in that door and take your seat at that table — all of that starts with education.”
First Lady Michelle Obama